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Sock, to wash or not too wash?

EricBerg

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, May 2019
I start my camino from SJPdP on 29th May. I have 4 pairs of good quality merino wool socks and will not be wearing liners. I may change into a fresh pair of socks half way through the day.
My question is, do I need to wash my socks daily?
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
As a Boy Scout we never washed our socks. Just beat them on the tent pole in the morning till they softened up a bit.

This is not a recommendation.

These days I tend to rinse out Merino stuff in clean water to remove the salt and dust, and maybe wash with a mild soap, shampoo or similar when the inclination takes me.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Santiago, Norte (2016)
Camino Portuguese, Coastal (2018)
I was told once that salt can build up in a pair of socks and can cause minor irritation over time, possibly resulting in blisters. I have no idea how factual this advice was. Regardless, I took 3 pair so that I could wash one pair at night and giving me assurance I would have at least two dry pair for the next day.
 

FourSeasons

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF Sept/Oct 2013
CF April/May 2016
del Norte (July/August 2019)
No need to wash everyday or even every other day. They are pretty much stink resistant. From what I recall I may have washed mine once a week or so. Love the thicker SmartWool sock, no blisters!!

:cool:👣
 

dfox

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (4/2017)
CP (5/2019)
Are harmful bacteria unable to build up in the sock?
 

Lifeisgood

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walked the Camino Frances in September/October 2018 (St Jean Pied de Port - Finisterra)
I also took merino wool socks (Smartwool - agreeing, they are the best hiking socks I ever owned so far!), had 3 pairs in the beginning and 2 pairs in the end since I forgot one pair along the way... Was enough! Every other night I also just rinsed them in the evening with either just clean water or a little bit of soap and let them dry over night. Towards the end I wore the socks up to 5 days before washing them and I just air dryed them. Regarding bacteria: Bacteria becomes only an issue if you have open wounds on your feet, i.e. open blisters. In that case yes, desinfection and also clean socks are a high priority to avoid infections!
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF
its true that they will likely be stink-resistant however that doesn’t make them dirt and skin resistant. Even that tough skin under the heal sheds a little each time you take a step. If you walk 20kms a day and have a stride of 1 meter you would take 10,000 steps per foot. Stretch that out to a week and you have 70,000 skin sheds ground into each wool sock... and then there is the sweat and dirt!

That said, in the winter I’d go a couple days between washes myself, especially if it was snowing or raining and I knew the socks wouldn’t dry overnight.
 

JohnMcM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Some, and with luck, some more.
Well my guess is that if you want to make friends and not have any nasty little microbes setting up house in your socks, wash them.

That said, I nothing about merino wool socks, except that I don’t wear them.

Burn (fresh feet) Camino
 

Moorwalker

Member
Camino(s) past & future
none yet
Everyone's feet sweat and all that sweat and salt and various proteins end up in the fabric of the sock, making it stiff, damaging the fibres, and getting stinky - even merino wool will get stinky after a few days. I can't imagine not washing them, ideally every day. Plain water will work pretty well unless they are filthy. My Smartwool socks even go through the washing machine on a normal wash and come out just fine.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
I have worn smart wool socks on every camino. I just wash them at night to get the stench and some of the grim out and then wash them in the machine regularly. I still use the same ones from 2 caminos ago. I also use a very thin synthetic liner under my socks to absorb sweat. Wash those too. That works great for me and in about 4k of walking I have had 5 blisters, none too severe. I just take my socks off to air out and only change them if they are soaking wet in a rainstorm.
Works for me!
 
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Portia1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2009, Portuguese 2012
Frances 2016, (Frances 2019)
If it has been a hot day, I wash them. If cold, perhaps not. If dusty trail, yes. If rocky, paved, perhaps not. So much depends on your feet and conditions. It also depends on whether sock are merino wool or not. I do not go more than two days without washing as it restores the “bounce.” If you are prone to blisters (I am not), washing provides a cleaner environment in the event of a rupture.

In addition, if your boots are well aged, there maybe a residual “funk”—there have been times when someone has removed boots and the odor was overwhelming. Just be mindful that pilgrims are in confined spaces and odor due to a decision to forgo washing is not kind.
 

prairiegirlmb

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Porto to SDC (September 2020)
I have been using Smartwools for over well over 10 years and always wash them. I couldn't imagine not washing them and I have found they don't ruin in the wash. The claim that wool does not stink can be argued as I know (unfortunately) that mine and others have carried a smell.
 

Delphinoula

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C Franconia 2019
Camino desde Algeciras Sevillia (2019)
Stink is relative but should I start on the sand?
 

Stivandrer

Perambulating & Curious. Rep stravaiging offender
Camino(s) past & future
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
I change my socks 2-3 times a day to have as dry conditions in the boot as possible.
I turn the socks inside out, have a champagne cork in either toe end and fasten socks in the noose(s) on the rucksack, corks will prevent the sock from slipping from the hold.
- a rinse in lukewarm water will be sufficient to daily keeping one of the three pairs in good condition, this one pair will partially dry out in the course of the night, and will be the first one in the noose from the morning.

After the first change of socks (ie max 2 hours) this newly rinsed one (from the evening before) will enter the cycle of the day...
Note it is true that a fresh, newly washed sock will feel springy and fluffy but a wool sock is better when it packs nicely around the shape of the foot, so fewer washings is advised on a four week trip...imho...

Addition: 3 pairs is a good number....
 
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Delphinoula

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C Franconia 2019
Camino desde Algeciras Sevillia (2019)
Corks what a great idea 💡
 

charlesstones

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
France 05/2018 & Portugues 09/2018
I start my camino from SJPdP on 29th May. I have 4 pairs of good quality merino wool socks and will not be wearing liners. I may change into a fresh pair of socks half way through the day.
My question is, do I need to wash my socks daily?
I have 4 pair of Merino wool socks and I wear one pair a day and yes I wash them after one use and I am on my 3rd Camino starting in June this year with the same socks. Feet are great.
 

J F Gregory

Portugal Central - October 2019
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (March-April,2016) finished, (October 2019) Portuguese Central Route.
I wear merino wool socks on a daily basis. Hiking I wear Darn Tough wool hiking socks. Wear I purchase all of my socks they are expensive, but they have a lifetime warranty which I have taken advantage of. If I am walking long distance 20-30 kilometers a day I will change socks about half as I am resting my feet or if the are wet, I wear Altra mesh trail runners. I do wear a sock liner while on the trail and wash them as needed.
🤪
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" Camino
but 2019?
Am I the only one whose socks pick up dirt from the trail? I couldn't imagine not washing them daily.
But you are the patron saint of the sandal so more chance of your socks (thought you spell them sox?) getting dirty.
I agree though - shirt, socks and underwear, washed every day. What else would we do with our post-walking time? ;) 🧦
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
But you are the patron saint of the sandal so more chance of your socks (thought you spell them sox?) getting dirty.
Oh no, that title belongs to @Kanga . I'm just a recent convert to walking the Camino in sandals, that's why I'm evangelizing so much. But I can tell you that my socks got plenty dirty when I wore shoes.
 

Stivandrer

Perambulating & Curious. Rep stravaiging offender
Camino(s) past & future
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
When you take a look at your trouser legs on the back just above the boots when it rains, most will see that you sprinkle drops from the heel of the boot upward. Making a nice line upwards 10 inches at best...
That is where the stones, the sand and the dirt go as well and when I am in shorts, which is always when I am in Spain, my boots fill up with it!
I am considering low boot gaiters...
 
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malingerer

Active Member
I was recently told that you should not wash merino wool socks often--just take them off and hang them to dry inside out.

I agree but I use my merino wool base layers the same way and then about every four days every thing gets washed. I seldom use albergues any more so that when I have a room I just march into the shower and disrobe! I then cheerfully trample my duds underfoot ( I use shower gel for everything) and give them a good rinse with a cold shower. All the while I sing cheery pilgrim songs of course before hanging everything out to dry, inside out. you can repeat this routine ad infinitum. I only use three sets of gear with one set on standby in the ruck and the "back to back" system for the other two. Works for me! Best of luck and keep on truckin!

Yours aye

The malingerer
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France, Camino del Norte, Camino de Madrid
Everyone's feet sweat and all that sweat and salt and various proteins end up in the fabric of the sock, making it stiff, damaging the fibres, and getting stinky - even merino wool will get stinky after a few days. I can't imagine not washing them, ideally every day. Plain water will work pretty well unless they are filthy. My Smartwool socks even go through the washing machine on a normal wash and come out just fine.
I agree. The thought of re-wearing unwashed sox is unthinkable to me. I wash them every night.
 

FourSeasons

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF Sept/Oct 2013
CF April/May 2016
del Norte (July/August 2019)
its true that they will likely be stink-resistant however that doesn’t make them dirt and skin resistant. Even that tough skin under the heal sheds a little each time you take a step. If you walk 20kms a day and have a stride of 1 meter you would take 10,000 steps per foot. Stretch that out to a week and you have 70,000 skin sheds ground into each wool sock... and then there is the sweat and dirt!

That said, in the winter I’d go a couple days between washes myself, especially if it was snowing or raining and I knew the socks wouldn’t dry overnight.
Hmmm, I didn't think that hard about it nor do I care to. LOL :D
Let me ask you this. Do you wash your bed sheets every night?

Eww think of all that dead skin you're sleeping with. :eek:

:cool:👣
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
I wear double socks with boots: thin inner socks, thick outer. I try to change and wash the inner socks every day. The outer socks can only be changed when the last pair that I washed is dry, which generally takes a couple of days. But I am fussy about clean socks: one thin, light pair to wear with my skirt and sandals in the evening after my shower, and one thick warm pair to wear in bed on chilly nights, so I carry six pairs of socks. Only the light evening socks are not wool. I like warm, dry feet and I never get blisters.
 

Delphinoula

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C Franconia 2019
Camino desde Algeciras Sevillia (2019)
Hi four seasons don’t you. Of course
 

Raggy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
I turn the socks inside out, have a champagne cork in either toe end and fasten socks in the noose on the rucksack, corks will prevent the sock from slipping from the hold.
Corks what a great idea 💡
It is a great idea, but I'm not sure that I can up my consumption to two bottles of Champagne per day.
 

jerbear

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de madrid, camino francis, camino inverino (2012, 2013,2014)
CdM, Francis, San salvador, primativo june 2015 CDM , francis, inverino 2016
Camino madrid, via de Plata. Santiago.
Coast of the dead malpica to muxia
Please dont wash/soak your socks in the salad bowls at the albergue. Bad enough they use the kitchen sink. No respect!
 

Delphinoula

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C Franconia 2019
Camino desde Algeciras Sevillia (2019)
Now I know why you would need two bottles of bubbly. One to wash yozr socks with and one to internal desinfect after you washed your socks and tben made a Salat. Just wonderful.
 

H Richards

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
May/June 2017 Francés
Oct 2017 Le Puy / Francés (parts)
June/July 2018 Norte
Oct/Nov 2018 Francés
Wool is naturally anti-bacterial. You won't need to wash your socks every day. Every two or three days will be plenty, and they won't even smell bad.

I've heard urban myths too about keeping your socks unwashed longer helping to prevent blisters, but your guess is as good as mine if this has any truth to it!
 

John H.

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF - 2017
CP Central - 2017
CP Coastal - 2018
CF - [hopefully again someday]
...do I need to wash my socks daily?
Is this really a serious question? 🤮🤧😷😳

2 minutes in a sink with a bar of soap and they are clean. Hang dry over night and they are usually dry. You will have 4 pairs of which at least 3 will be dry. Your feet and all other pilgrims will appreciate your effort.
 

truthseeker

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés, (fall, 2018)
I walked sjpp to santiago last fall and alternated 2 pairs of merino sock liners from REI. I did not wash them daily but only if I felt they needed it. Just wore one pair of sock liners, no over-socks. Salomon trail runners one size bigger thsn my usual size. Never a blister, no black toes.
 

Stephen F.

carpintero de Colorado
Camino(s) past & future
Caminho Português 2015
Via de la Plata 2016
I have 4 pair of Merino wool socks and I wear one pair a day and yes I wash them after one use and I am on my 3rd Camino starting in June this year with the same socks. Feet are great.
I carried 2 pair of Merino Smart Wool Socks, plus a pair of Carhart cotton socks to wear with my sandals at night. Each evening I washed my underwear and socks from that day and put on clean in the morning. My underwear always dried over night, but some days I had to pin my damp clean socks on my pack. Clean socks are healthier socks for your feet.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de Santiago, St Jean to Santuago, 2015
Camino Portuguese, 2018
I start my camino from SJPdP on 29th May. I have 4 pairs of good quality merino wool socks and will not be wearing liners. I may change into a fresh pair of socks half way through the day.
My question is, do I need to wash my socks daily?
Yes please
 

DougWilliams55

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
Maybe it's a personal preference, but my advice: yes, absolutely, wash socks at the end of the day and they can dry overnight.
 

Chris Gallacher

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015)
Camino Primitivo (2016)
Camino Sanabres (planned April 2018)
I start my camino from SJPdP on 29th May. I have 4 pairs of good quality merino wool socks and will not be wearing liners. I may change into a fresh pair of socks half way through the day.
My question is, do I need to wash my socks daily?
It's Marino! 3 pairs are enough. Just air them out a wee bit at the end of the day. You will know when to wash them. Don't worry about it.
 

MichelleElynHogan

Veteran Member
No matter what the socks are made of, please keep one thing one mind, "On the Camino, your most precious possession is your feet." Therefore, they deserve a commensurate amount of time and care. Take care of your feet and they will take care of you. :cool:
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
Am I the only one whose socks pick up dirt from the trail? I couldn't imagine not washing them daily.
In the summer definitely, I am a magnet for dirt: socks, legs etc. It takes me forever to get clean. In cooler weather (on the Norte now) and I was them every 3 days if I feel like it;).

After my first 2 Caminos I stopped buying expensive SmartWool socks as I got holes in them after about 400 km. I now buy synthetic running/light hiking socks which are much cheaper and wear out after maybe 800 km.
 

Richard Smith

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2016
Kumano Kodo 2014
Lots of replies to this but my question is why "not" wash today's socks every night, if you have more than one set and washing facilities?
I walked with three pairs of merino/nylon explorer socks and two would have been enough on my walk but I would recommend three. (I had two new pairs and one old pair - the old pair I think I only wore one day as the new ones were nicer).
I changed and washed socks every night and the washed pair either dried at the hostel or attached to my backpack during the walk in the sun the next day.
FYI my boots never got waterlogged so I didn't change socks during the day, though sometimes I took them off and aired my feet during a rest. The third pair of socks are worth carrying in case your boots get drenched.
Your feet will enjoy clean socks and your hostel buddies might appreciate it as well....?
One tip:- everyone says buy your boots early and wear them in over a few months but no-one says BUY NEW SOCKS and wear them just once or twice before the walk, buy the same size and brand you always wear and walk with them only to check there are no defects. New socks are so much nicer than the years-old socks you wear on your weekend walks!
 

truthseeker

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés, (fall, 2018)
Lots of replies to this but my question is why "not" wash today's socks every night, if you have more than one set and washing facilities?
I walked with three pairs of merino/nylon explorer socks and two would have been enough on my walk but I would recommend three. (I had two new pairs and one old pair - the old pair I think I only wore one day as the new ones were nicer).
I changed and washed socks every night and the washed pair either dried at the hostel or attached to my backpack during the walk in the sun the next day.
FYI my boots never got waterlogged so I didn't change socks during the day, though sometimes I took them off and aired my feet during a rest. The third pair of socks are worth carrying in case your boots get drenched.
Your feet will enjoy clean socks and your hostel buddies might appreciate it as well....?
One tip:- everyone says buy your boots early and wear them in over a few months but no-one says BUY NEW SOCKS and wear them just once or twice before the walk, buy the same size and brand you always wear and walk with them only to check there are no defects. New socks are so much nicer than the years-old socks you wear on your weekend walks!
I agree, try out the socks you plan to wear on the Camino. It's a process which can teach you a lot about feet swelling and socks rubbing. I had bought several new pairs of various thicknesses, but after walking daily in Massachusetts' hot summer, I found that I needed only the merino sock liners and one-size-bigger Salomon trail runners.
 

John Zachman

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Walked Camino French 8/12/17 --9/25/17
I walked from Burgos to the cathedral with a layer of Vaseline, a light nylon sock, and wool merino sock , washing them every three weeks. Yes, every three weeks. NO blisters, ever. This was a tip from a German female pilgrim, and I am forever grateful for her advice. Really, this works. And no oder,!!
Only take off socks at the end of the day.
 

BeatriceKarjalainen

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Finished: See post signature.
Upcoming: Nothing planned
Am I the only one whose socks pick up dirt from the trail? I couldn't imagine not washing them daily.
As a sandal hiker I recognize this issue. But sometimes i just bang them against a wall to get the sand out and can use them one more day before washing. But I normally at least rinse them every day. I have a liner sock that one is treated the same way.
 

Stivandrer

Perambulating & Curious. Rep stravaiging offender
Camino(s) past & future
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
When I think of all the times I have sent my two boys off on a scout summer camp with rucksacks full of nice clean socks, shirts and underwear, enough for a fresh change every day, only to find that they only had a change on the one day there was a water fight or a fall into the lake..
I then reflect that a happy medium is just as sound:
For Pete´s sake don´t spend precious time washing everything perfectly clean every day...
 

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